Whatever the age or activity, repetition is key to learning a new skill. You have to practice until you learn what works and what doesn’t work. Most research suggests you must repeat something 7 times and possibly as many as 12-15 or more times. With children you often have to use encouragement to motivate them to want to practice.
Purposeful Practice for Automaticity
Now, that’s a phrase that will impress others! Basically, it means when teaching children a new skill they have to practice it until it becomes automatic. Some students with good visual memory skills can remember a sight word after one time. Some students with good auditory skills can remember the tune to a song after singing it one time. Some students with strong motor skills can remember dance steps after doing them one time. Students learn in three main ways: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. This highlights the importance of providing different learning experiences to meet the needs of the different learners in your classroom.
Worksheets and repetitive drill can be boring to children, so take a look at these ideas. They can be adapted from preschool to primary grades by changing the content from colors and shapes to letters and words and math facts.
*The more senses you activate, the more likely the message will get to the brain, and that’s why you’ll find at least two senses (eyes, ears, or motor) in each one. These ideas are simple, quick, and FREE!
Each week cut out 2 hands and write skills you want your students to practice on the hands. Every time they go in and out the door they “high five” the hands and repeat the information. For older students use five hands. The teacher stands at the door and calls out a word or math fact and the students touch the appropriate hand.
Write a letter, word, shape, math fact, etc. on an index card each day and tape it to a visor. One student is the “super” visor of the day. The supervisor stands at the door and does not let friends go out until they say the information on the visor.
Again, write letters, words, numbers, etc. on paper cut to fit in a name badge. Children wear the name badges and walk around the room and greet friends referring to them as the information on the badge. For example: “Hello T.” “Hello M.”
Cut construction paper 1 ½” x 7”. Write skills on the paper and then tape to children’s wrists like a bracelet. During the day frequently call attention to the bracelet by saying, “Show me___.” “Shout out what’s on your bracelet?” “Tell your parents 3 times tonight what is on your bracelet.”